DCS admits spit hoods used at Canning Vale’s Banksia Hill Juvenille Detention Centre

Stock image.
Stock image.

SPIT HOODS are used in the WA youth justice system, but not widely according to a Department of Corrective Services (DCS) spokeswoman, who said Canning Vale’s Banskia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre was trialling the removal of the devices.

In the past year, the device has been used eight times across WA juvenile detention centres to de-escalate incidents for the safety of the young person, staff or others, including other young people.

“They were used for the shortest time necessary,” the spokeswoman said.

“Spit hoods were only used during the management of incidents where it is known that the young person presents a risk to others through spitting (and) the hood design allowed for visibility.”

A trial is underway at Banksia Hill to remove the use of spit hoods on prisoners and shift towards staff situational management through the use of personal protective mask.

“This review follows changes that have already been made to greatly reduce the practice of strip searching and handcuffing since February 2016,” the spokeswoman said.

In the wake of revelations into the brutalisation of young people in the Northern Territory youth justice system, the spokeswoman assured the WA Youth Justice Framework was structured to encourage rehabilitation.

“Under this new framework, Youth Justice Services will ensure young people are cared for, supported and nurtured both in the community and in custody and leave better equipped to live law abiding, productive lifestyles,” she said.

“We are moving from a traditional custodial model to a model of care, rehabilitation and education.”

The management of violent offenders is individualised and reviewed daily.

“A young person who has been violent and is housed in the Harding Unit has a personal support plan that is reviewed daily by a multi-disciplinary team including psychologists, custodial staff and senior managers,” the spokeswoman said.

“Young people are only placed in an Observation Cell for their welfare (and) is never used as punishment or in a punitive manner.”

Under the WA Young Offender Regulations 1995 young people can be confined.

Confinement is an option within the range of penalties when a young person is found guilty of a detention offence and is only used as a last resort.

In WA young people in confinement receive 30 minutes exercise out of their cell every three hours and confinement is for a period not exceeding 48 hours.

“In addition to the 30 minutes exercise, young people also have access to showers, telephone calls, normal visits, pastoral care, medical and psychological services which continue as normal and the young person has a television in their cell,” the spokeswoman said.

“Young people who are violent or at risk of self-harm, are managed according to Youth Custodial rules and regulations that outline the standard operating procedures.”